Here at AmiAmi, "M3" is code for "Moe, mecha and more." But in the dojin music scene everyone knows it as a biannual music media-mix market. M3 began in 1998 as been Japan's premiere event for independent tunes and it continues to grow without sign of stopping. Over 1200 vendors filled the Tokyo Ryutsu Center to capacity at the October 26th convention. One afternoon is hardly enough time to cover everything so consider this post our best hits compilation.
If it's an instrument, it has a place at M3. From bagpipes to bass guitars to bassoons you'll find every device imaginable if you know where to look--or how to listen. Follow your ear to the live performance hall where bands battle to be heard over the noise and the KORG industry booth holds a rave in the center of the chaos. Danbocchi was there with sound-proof isolation chambers to serve as work spaces for serious music producers but some people used them as a noise-cancelling bomb shelter.
Chiptune, Vocaloid, Toho and their subsequent remixes form the core of the dojin community. There's too many artists with too many different styles to list so you should explore the booth directory on the M3 homepage. Click on the button “サークルリストを全て開く" to open the descriptions then search for your niche by keyword.
Check out Takepod for traditional Miku, Unchiku Company for orchestral arrangements of Toho tracks, and Hydden for chiptunes from the best retro game you've never played.
Once you leave the hall of traditional dojin tunes it's all unexplored terrain. Everything else is lumped together as "original content," which can range from drama CDs to studio musicians to hardcore techno played over a toilet flushing.
We were really impressed by Glariz, a doom drone act that worships Homura as their dark goddess, Ikigusare and his homemade cyclops sisters, Joint Sync Memory, a Kalfina cover band and the moe-kyun voice tracks of Higeichi Web.
Every exhibitor has a story to tell. Hibiku Yamamura is an up and coming voice actress best known as the arrogant and aloof Haruna from Arpeggio of Blue Steel. Turns out the real Hibiku is nothing like her on-screen persona. As a child she idolized Satoshi (Ash Ketchum) from Pokemon for his positive mental attitude. In her search for a way to be more like the character, she discovered the exciting world of seiyuu and never looked back.
Like many independent artists she puts a lot of time into self promotion. Aside from semi-regular live broadcasts on TwitCast she also tours events such as M3 to hold-meet-and-greets with fans. Her booth featured listening stations to sample her songs in HD, but is it enough to help her stand out from the crowd? Check out the clip from her new single, Plastic Shoes, and see if she doesn't hit your sweet spot.
If you're living in Japan you can cheer for her in person at her December 27th show at Planet K in Kichijoji. Let's wish her the best!
On the other side of the spectrum you have established acts such as Mosaic.wav. Vocalist MIIKO and composer Susumu Kayamori have been making frantic electro tracks since 2004 while keeping close to their counterculture roots. They translate the visual noise of Akihabara into chaotic layers of rhythm and sugary-sweet vocals. Yes, MIIKO sings the way maid cafe staff speak.
Somehow they found a way to make pop music as grating as garage punk. But stick with it and your ears will get used to the tweaked out treble and breakneck beeps. Your iTunes library may start to look boring in comparison. If that happens you're left with only one option--head to M3 and dig up even crazier sounds!